Telepathology might sound like a superpower or futuristic idea from a sci-fi movie but it is a very real form of science and one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. So, what is telepathology?
It’s the practice of pathology from a remote location. Pathology is a branch of science and medicine that deals with the causes and effects of disease.
Telepathology solutions make the processes of diagnosis, treatment, and research easier, more accurate, and less expensive. By conducting pathology remotely it allows medical professionals to connect with their patients and with each other, streamlining communication and cooperation.
What can we expect for the future of telepathology? Read below for 4 major telepathology solutions that have the ability to change the world of science and medicine as we know it.
There are three main types of telepathology solutions – virtual slide systems, real-time systems, and image-based systems. You can find detailed information on each type of telepathology solution here. But below is a quick summary of each type.
Virtual slide pathology is a system that digitally uploads slides so that they can be shared remotely. The images are high-resolution and much easier to handle and save for future use than traditional glass slides.
Pathologists use virtual-slide systems to look for abnormalities in samples or share findings for educational or research purposes. The virtual-slide systems are more expensive than the other two forms of pathology solutions.
Real-time pathology systems allow a pathologist to control a microscope remotely. They can view the specimen in real-time and manipulate the microscope to see more detail.
Image-based pathology systems are less advanced than the other two systems but less expensive to use. The system captures images of a specimen slide. Image-based systems do not provide the same high-resolution quality that virtual slide systems do.
1. Digital Pathology
Digital pathology makes it possible for medical professionals to exchange information online. It improves communication between providers so that they can provide streamlined care.
Digital data can be stored forever. A pathologist can return to data at any time and share it (securely) as necessary. All they need is an internet connection.
When medical professionals collaborate they are more likely to reach conclusions quickly. And a timely diagnosis could mean faster intervention and treatment for the patient.
2. Telepathology Scanners
Telepathology trends are constantly improving and evolving to make better use out of the technology that exists. For example, the telepathology scanner. This device can capture digital copies of specimen slides.
The device scans the slide, uploads the data, and saves everything digitally. Previously, pathologists would have to send specimen slides to a lab or another pathology office to have them examined. But now, digital copies of the scans can be saved and sent within a single day.
Telepathology scanners can be used for diagnosis or getting a second opinion from another medical professional. Digital images can also be used for research and education.
3. Whole Slide Imaging
Whole slide imaging is used to create duplicates of high-resolution specimen slides. The reason they call it “whole slide” imaging is because it can capture the entire glass slide. Previously, there was more than one image per slide.
Whole slide imaging uses a special type of camera that can capture more detail than the cameras pathologists used to use. Medical professionals can use whole slide images to diagnose disease. Pathologists can also use whole slide imaging for research and education.
4. Frozen Section
The frozen section procedure starts with a doctor taking a sample of tissue. They freeze it and cut the sample into smaller pieces that they can look at under a microscope. The process only takes a few minutes.
Frozen sections of the tissue allow for faster diagnosis. Pathologists may be able to see and diagnose a problem even before looking at the tissue under a microscope. For example, a pathologist might notice cancerous cells that need to be removed.
The frozen section procedure is used during surgery to get fast results. Pathologists and surgeons can work together to ensure the best outcome for the patient. Frozen samples can also be scanned or imaged to be stored for future use. You can read more about the frozen section procedure here.
How do these telepathology solutions move the medical field forward? How can we apply these technology trends to help every person in every country that may be sick?
First, telepathology solutions improve the accessibility of healthcare. Many rural areas of the world don’t have a local pathology expert. But as long as they can connect to the internet they can use telepathology to diagnose and treat patients.
Access to healthcare is a huge problem globally. But advances in telemedicine, including telepathology, have the power to make healthcare more equitable and accessible for everyone regardless of location or socioeconomic status.
Telepathology also improves the efficiency of healthcare. Digital pathology allows pathologists to send and receive information and images in a matter of seconds. It’s also more efficient from a cost perspective. Digital solutions save time and money involved with transporting slides or having pathologists travel.
Finally, telepathology solutions can improve the quality of healthcare. When professionals work together and collaborate on complicated cases, the patient benefits from the extra attention. And no matter where the patient lives they have the same quality of care as everyone else.
The Future of Telepathology
The telepathology revolution shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, all telemedicine is constantly improving with new research and development. The telepathology solutions of today can help millions of people access high-quality diagnosis and treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about telemedicine including telepathology, teleradiology, and telecardiology, you can read our other blogs. And if you’re looking to bring telehealth solutions to your hospital, clinic, or rural health center, contact us today – we can answer any questions you may have.